6 Binding Waste as Book History
Patterns of Survival Among the Early Mainz Donatus Editions
n this article the Author examines binding waste made from the earliest editions of Donatus’ Ars minor (a Latin grammar printed in Mainz during the 1450s and ’60s) to contextualize his earlier conclusions regarding at least 15 copies of the Gutenberg Bible known only from fragments, which bookbinders across Europe recycled for waste material during the later sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century. The binding contexts for the Donatus fragments, by contrast, date mainly to the fifteenth century. This testifies to the fact that the Bibles retained their usefulness much longer than the schoolbooks did, and suggests that the functional life spans of various genres of books are measurable, and this can be better understood through similar studies of binding waste in context.